Townof Melita From The Mayor's Chair March 2012 Mayor Bob Walker
Two public meetings scheduled in about two weeks time are dealing with similar issues. Infrastructure.
The first will be dealing with the arena. Built back in the 1960’s, parts of the facility have quite frankly outlived their useful lives. The Arena Operating Board is made up of representatives from the RM of Arthur, Town of Melita, Minor Hockey and the Figure Skating Club operates the facility. Revenues come from direct contribution from the two municipal governments, ice rentals from users of the arena, a percentage of gate receipts from certain games and events, special functions, and of course the Arena Kitchen, operated by the Arena Board using volunteer workers. The aim has always been to keep activities affordable, and oversee the repair and maintenance required for successful operation.
Unfortunately most municipal governments have not done an adequate job over the last fifty years, or even made a serious attempt to build a reserve for eventual replacement of the facility itself, or even its major components. Like most households, budgets for major repairs just got ignored and funding occurred on an emergency basis. Government grants, fundraising, special events, and special donations for specific needs, combined with ever slowly increasing taxpayer support provided the needed funds. For you information, the Town of Melita currently contributes $21,000 annually.
For several years the board has known that the state of the “boards” enclosing the ice surface, the ice making plant, and perhaps even the arena cement floor surface would have to be replaced or the arena would have to shut down. Huge costs, but absolutely imperative if the community wants to have a “winter hub” for family activities. Lack of this type of facility would mean no possibility of keeping our youth in the area, or attracting young families to live and grow here. Think of the effect on our school population, and operation of any community facility dependant on renewing memberships to afford covering operating costs.
A group of concerned individuals, mostly born and raised here, but not all, realized that the arena is a vital component for many people young and old. Either repairs had to be made or plans to rebuild considered. As most readers are aware, communities all around Manitoba have made the same decision, based on the same needs because they were all built in the same era. Funds have been raised to cover initial studies that required engaging an engineering firm to design a structure to meet our needs. Draft 12 will be presented at the meeting. A structural assessment of the building itself has almost been completed, and the ice surface floor will be assessed shortly when the ice plant is turned off.
About eight or nine years ago, the Melita Kinsmen Club spearheaded an effort to replace the aging pool, a project that the club had been involved in since the 1950’s at various locations. The dream of many was to build a covered pool so that operation might be extended by several months at both ends of the swim season. That quickly evaporated when operating costs and population figures were addressed. However, it did get the community thinking about a new structure. Seven years ago, a group of people banded together to make and execute a plan to build a new pool. As a large amount of funds were going to have to come from government coffers, it was decided that a phased project linking the other two existing facilities, the arena and curling rink with the pool would be the way to attract funding. Stage one being the pool renewal. After public meetings and surveys showed a reasonable amount of consensus to proceed, an engineering firm was contracted to get a plan and a picture with estimated costs that could be presented to all the parties that could be involved. The idea was to link the three facilities, making more effective use of all, with office space for a facility manager, a recreation director, activity and meeting rooms, and refurbished dressing rooms at the arena that could double as pool change rooms as well. The provincial authorities that would provide some of the funding approved a pool design by a contractor that had been selected. Fundraising began, with the aim of having most of the money in hand before starting construction. In 2008 phase one was completed, fully funded. The next year some water slides were also added.
Three years later, a different group of people has decided it is time for phase two. Some changes to that part of the project better reflect current community needs. The Complex Committee has taken over the Pool Building Committee’s incorporation by placing new members in most of the required officer and directors positions. This way it can assume the bank account registrations and legal registration as a non-profit charitable organization that can issue tax-deductible receipts for donations. The process requires the same approvals from the community for the plan to proceed. On April 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the arena, the committee will be presenting several options for the general public to comment and ask questions about.
There will have to be a fairly strong sense of approval to move forward with phase 2, as both the RM of Arthur and the Town of Melita have stated that any funding would have to be done by assessing a general levy on property owners over a period of years. Please come out to show your support if you feel the project would be beneficial to the community’s future. In the event the feeling is overwhelmingly negative, be prepared to support or not, the necessary repairs to keep the arena open.
The second public meeting is being conducted on April 10th at 7 p.m. at the Legion Hall, sponsored by the Economic Development Committee and the Town of Melita. Again the topic will be infrastructure, but this time discussing current needs to sustain the viability of the town, as well as future needs to service the demands brought on by the oil activity across the region.
The flood of 2011 has damaged some infrastructure, namely the lagoons, and made it obvious that our lagoon capacity is severely lacking. Changes to provincial regulations regarding sewage treatment have also compounded the problems, necessitating upgrades.
The Town has worked through the Manitoba Water Services Board to engage engineers to report on the sewage treatment situation, as well as the design work to provide the community with the necessary permanent diking to meet the most recent flood levels experienced with some additional room for safety. Initial recommendations have been received, and were sent back for some rework based on council’s perception of future community needs. Hopefully we will be able to report final suggestions for public assessment.
Infrastructure also includes water and sewer renewals of our almost 60 year old in ground system as well as new services for new developments. Roads need repairs, but the under ground infrastructure has to be fixed before new road surfaces can be laid.
We are currently trying to engage the various government departments to give us some direction and assistance to meet the overwhelming demands being placed on our community.
We have several local developers proceeding through the subdivision process to bring on more commercial and residential lots. There are possible areas that could be developed if someone or some group was willing to assume the risks. Maybe some solutions will surface at the meeting.